By now, we hope you’ve taken the leap and started becoming active in social media. We also hope that you’ve caught on to the very simple jargon and stopped using phrases like “so-and-so Twittered” and “I was Twittering today, and so-and-so @-ed me.” Mom, for the last time, the verb is “tweet.”
But, because TWEETING is so much fun, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and lose sight of the purpose. We start challenging ourselves to get ONE MILLION followers and we get greedy, using Twitter and Facebook as a platform for quick advertising and mass messaging. Instead of asking yourself how much stuff you can sell, focus on how you can strengthen your relationships and bring your followers into your community.
Which takes a little more strategy. We’ve put together a few tips for how you can not only maximize the quantity of your network, but the quality.
1. Find the people who matter, and follow them. What are you trying to accomplish and who are you trying to reach? Most likely it’s not a cat in Arizona or a scantily clad woman. Search for keywords that relate to your industry or make sense for your customer base. Explore the site WeFollow to find leaders in your field and people in your city who are relevant.
2. Get rid of the people who don’t matter. Not every follower is a good follower. Unless they are providing valuable content, you don’t need to return the favor. And if they’re not following you, then you shouldn’t feel compelled to let them clutter your stream (although there are exceptions). Use the tool FriendorFollow to weed out the junk, and do so on a regular basis.
3. Have conversations. Have you ever been on a date where the other person would not stop talking about him or herself? It’s annoying, right? So don’t act that way on social media. Make sure you’re asking questions and answering them thoughtfully, and focus on two-way interaction. If you’re not doing that, you’re wasting your time and everyone else’s.
4. Cross-promote. If you have a large collection of quality friends of Facebook, use that network to find people on Twitter or to add to your fan page. Encourage those people to check out your blog and website. Provide intelligent comments on other blogs, and start LinkedIn groups. Offer every valuable contact in your giant network to explore your different platforms, and reward them for doing so by presenting unique content accordingly.
5. Track your results. Wondering if you’re doing a good job? It doesn’t have to be a mystery. Record your blog comments, site visits, blog subscribers, social media profile engagement and tweet replies. You can even use Klout or the controversial Twifficiency to receive a score based on the quality of your conversation. While these types of programs are a good measuring stick, keep in mind that the results are based on algorithms and stats that aren’t necessarily indicative of your actual influence on Twitter. Still, you should monitor these metrics consistently to make sure you’ve been staying on track and adjust as needed.
Keep these suggestions in mind as you grow and evolve your social media network. This phenomenon is a 24/7/365 machine that never quits, so it’s important that you don’t either. Successful users will constantly build, weed, refine and refocus to stay targeted and dominant. You don’t have to go crazy – just hold your online community to the same standards as those in your offline one and become the best “neighbor” you can be. Social media networks are dynamic, so you can’t become complacent in your efforts to grow or stagnant in your content.
And mom, feel free to stop forwarding me email chain letters and pictures of animals in costumes while you’re at it.